Golf Buzz

Rory McIlroy's old mansion in Northern Ireland
Rory McIlroy's five-bedroom house and 14-acre estate will be used in the hospitality business.
Rory McIlroy proposed to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki on New Year's Day, but the couple has yet to publicly announce a date or venue for the much-anticipated wedding. One thing you can bank on: The wedding will not take place at McIlroy's former mansion in Northern Ireland.
 
Other people may soon be getting married there, however, reports The Irish Mirror. The property, once worth $2.79 million, sold nearly a year ago to property developer and former TV personality Gary McCausland. His company, Robinhall House Ltd., now plans to use the five-bedroom house and 14-acre estate in the hospitality business.
 
 
The property sits in Carryduff, which is just outside Belfast, the capital and largest city in Northern Ireland. It boasts a gym and may soon have a swimming pool, but the most attractive feature has to be the golf course, which even comes with a putting green and driving range. This is basically the place where McIlroy honed his game en route to becoming the No. 1 player in the world.
 
McIlroy used to think he'd always be based in Northern Ireland, but with the PGA Tour and most of the biggest events primarily in the U.S., he purchased a $9.5 million, 15,000-square-foot mansion in Jupiter, Fla., in 2012.
 
McIlroy shared the Northern Ireland house with his ex-girlfriend, Holly Sweeney.
 
 
 
March 13, 2014 - 5:56pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Tom Watson
Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America
U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson says he hopes Tiger Woods is healthy enough to play at Gleneagles.
U.S. Ryder Cup Tom Watson met the media on Thursday at the Champions Tour's Toshiba Classic in Newport Beach, Calif., and made it very clear he's paying close attention to the players who are making moves up the points list – and to one who isn't.
 
"…Tiger has not played well and is injured. There's a story in itself," Watson said. "I want Tiger to be on the team in the worst way; I just hope he's healthy enough to be able to play."
 
Woods, of course, has been dealing with back pain much of the season so far, but Watson noted that, with six months still to go until the Ryder Cup is played, "it's really early yet, way too early to tell."
 
 
And while Woods has struggled, younger players like Patrick Reed have been soaring – and Watson definitely has noticed.
 
"What Patrick said [about being a top-5 player], I can understand him saying that, but after 14 events and winning three of them, I guess maybe he has a little bit of street cred," Watson said. "After my first event winning, I said I hope my goal was to be the best golfer in the world. After winning three out of the first 14, you've got to give the guy a little bit of credit."
 
Elsewhere in his news conference, Watson hit on topics ranging from the age of his vice captains to his impression of young French player Victor Dubuisson, who almost won the Accenture Match Play Championship and is likely to be on the European squad at Gleneagles. To read the entire transcript, click here.
 
Fran Thomas
Fran Thomas got two aces in 1987, then carded her third 27 years later.
Still looking for the first hole-in-one of your lifetime? Are you of retirement age and still shooting for that first ace? Fret not, it could still come.
 
Fran Thomas of Tucson, Ariz., was in her mid-60s when she sank her first hole-in-one. And she even carded a second one that same year in 1987.
 
Thomas is now 92 – and the owner of three lifetime aces. This past January she watched her tee shot drop in the cup at the 108-yard 13th hole at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Tucson. That's nearly 27 years after her other holes-in-one from the course's second hole.
 
 
Granted, you're not going to see the PGA Tour visit Rolling Hills anytime soon, with its petite 4,100-yard course comprised of nine par 3s and nine par 4s. But a hole-in-one is a hole-in-one.
 
And clubbing one at the age of 92 is quite impressive. Maybe it was possible because Thomas recently started letting her body recover? Instead of playing golf every single day, she's now down to only three or four rounds per week. And instead of walking the Rolling Hills course, she now agrees to ride in a cart.
 
Shouldn't we all aspire to play three or four rounds of golf a week when we're 92? Absolutely.
 
March 12, 2014 - 3:05pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Coach Joey Diovisalvi
Joey D Golf
Coach Joey Diovisalvi -- "Joey D" -- is a golf fitness expert who works with many of the game's top players. Here he demonstrates one of the many exercises you can do to keep a bad back at bay.

As we've seen the last two weeks on the PGA Tour, world No. 1 Tiger Woods has suffered mightily with back spasms.

Two weeks ago at the Honda Classic, back spasms forced Woods to withdraw from the tournament 13 holes into the final round.

And just last week at Trump National Doral, Woods entered the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship just three shots out of the lead, but his back flared up yet again. He finished the tournament this time, but a closing 6-over-par 78 -- his worst score ever at Doral -- resulted in a tie for 25th, nine shots behind the winner.

RELATED: Tiger 'intends to be at Bay Hill' | Should Tiger play Masters with bad back? | Tiger WDs

Though the large majority of us are in nowhere close to the physical condition of Woods, surely there are many of us that can relate to back pain on the golf course.

Believe it or not, there are measures you can take to stop the back pain before it even starts.

We reached out to Coach Joey Diovisalvi -- aka "Joey D" -- for some help.

Joey D runs Joey D Golf in Jupiter, Fla. If anyone knows the body of a golfer, it's Joey D. His resume includes work with Vijay Singh, Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley, Pat Perez, Jesper Parnevik, Corey Pavin, Jason Dufner, Tom Pernice, Jr. and Brad Faxon, just to name a few.

Joey D's clients account for over 30 professional victories and countless top-10 finishes.

Here are six exercises Joey D recommended:

1. Pike Walk/Hamstring Stretch

  1. Begin by standing with your feet together in an upright position with your arms extended over your head.
  2. Slowly, engage your core and feel your core tighten as you reach down towards your feet. Focus on maintaining good posture through this movement to create tension in the back of your legs.
  3. If you cannot reach your feet, begin to lean forward until your hands make contact with the floor and, keeping your core engaged, walk your hands away from your feet until you are near a push up position. Continue to tighten your core through this movement.
  4. Hold that position for a second and, continuing to engage your core, begin to walk the feet back towards your hands until you are near your previous position, you should again feel a pull in your hamstrings as you stretch them again. Slowly engage your low back muscles extending your hip back to the set up position.

Note: It is essential that you keep your legs as straight as you can throughout this movement. Having the knees bent relieves tension in your hamstrings voiding the stretch. If you cannot walk your feet back to your hands, separate the legs so they are wider then your shoulders during stage 4 until you can stand up.

Golf Thought: This movement also loosens the muscles of your lower back and hamstrings while engaging the core. The strong muscles of the legs and back allow the body to maintain proper spine angle and knee flexion during the entire golf swing.

  • Muscle Use: Hamstrings, Erector Spinae, Abdominals, Pectorals
  • Perform 1 set of 12 repetitions, Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

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2. Hip Opener

  1. Maintaining awareness of your balance, flex the knee and hip until you can rest your foot on the opposite knee. Extend your arms at chest level and bring your fingers together.
  2. Simultaneously, engage your shoulders to separate the arms bringing them back even with your body parallel to the ground, and turn the knee to face beside you. You should really feel the hip opening up as the leg begins to separate from the midline creating a light stretch on the inside of the hip. After each rep, lower the engaged leg, take another step, and continue the movement to the other side.

Golf Thought: Stretching the hip is vital to the golf swing to really allow the body to feel separation during the back and follow through of the swing. Tight hips provide negative impacts to the Golf Body.

  • Muscle Use: Hip Adductors, Hip Abductors, Tibialis Anterior, Deltoids
  • Perform 1 set of 12 repetitions, Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

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3. 10-2 Roll

  1. Lie on your back on a comfortable surface and place your legs on a 65-cm exercise ball. Dig your heels firmly into the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock, position pulling the ball against the thigh. Extend your arms our to your sides with palms facing the ground.
  2. Slowly, rotate the ball to one side bringing your outside leg into contact with the ground. You should feel your core engage as you rotate and create separation between your hips and your shoulders. Return your legs to the beginning position and continue to the opposite side.

Golf Thought: This drill really allows the body to feel how the hips and shoulders create separation in the golf swing.

  • Muscle Use: Abdominals, Lats, Pectorals
  • Perform 1-2 sets of 12 repetitions

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4. One leg over

  1. Lie on your back on a comfortable surface and place your right leg on a 65-centimeter exercise ball with your left leg extended on the ground. Dig your heel firmly into the 1 o’clock, position pulling the ball against the thigh. With the ball in position extend your arms to your side with palms on the ground.
  2. Slowly begin to rotate the leg across your body allowing the ball to roll over your left leg. You should feel your core engage as you rotate and create separation between your hips and your shoulders. Continue as far as your body allows before your hands come off of the ground. Return the legs back to the neutral upright position, and continue reps before switching legs.

Golf Thought: This drill really allows the body to feel how the hips and shoulders create separation in the Golf Swing while actively stretching the muscles of the core.

  • Muscle Use: Abdominals, Lats, Pelvic Stabilizers
  • Perform 1-2 sets of 12 repetitions

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5. Dead Bug

  • Lie on your back on a comfortable surface with your palms on the ground beside your hips and your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor.
  • Engage the core and tighten the glutes as you press your lower back into the ground. Hold for 3 seconds, and release.

Golf Thought: Dead Bug is a dynamic movement that strengthens the core and increase pelvic mobility simultaneously. Both of these moves are essential to power in rotation and maintaining proper spine angle during the Golf Swing.

  • Muscle Use: Rectus Abdominals, Transverse Abdominals, Gluteals, Erector Spinae
  • Perform 1-2 sets of 12 repetitions

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6. Bridge

  • Lie on your back on a comfortable surface. Feet are flat on the floor. Make sure ankle and knee are in a straight line. If possible try to touch finger tips to the back of your heel. Shoulders should feel in a secure position on the floor. Head and neck remain down and supported throughout the movement.
  • Slowly drive gluteus muscles (buttocks) and low back upward to a neutral pelvis and spine position, forming straight line from shoulders to knees. All your weight should be in your upper back and shoulder. Hold for a count of 3. Drop body back down to start position and repeat.

Golf Thought: Activating quadriceps, gluteus and mid-back to create a more powerful upper body connection.

  • Muscle Use: Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Glutes, Erector Spine, Abdominals, Spinalis Thoracis, Quadratus Lumborum
  • Perform 1-2 sets of 12 repetitions

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If you're interested in learning more about Coach Joey D's Tour-proven, game-changing golf fitness programs, visit www.joeydgolf.com. Follow Coach Joey D on Twitter, @CoachJoeyD.

You can also purchase follow-along-at-home DVDs by clicking here.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.
 

March 12, 2014 - 10:55am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Zach Johnson
USA Today Sports Images
Many of our readers believe that Zach Johnson is right at the top of the list when it comes to the current top 5 golfers in the world.

When Patrick Reed mentioned being among the top-5 players in the world after Doral, it created a wave of stories on Reed's confidence, but also opened up a discussion. Who are the top 5 players in the world? I chimed in as well. On Monday, I wrote a piece in which I revealed my current, unofficial top 5.

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To add to that, we asked you -- our readers and the 218,000+ strong in PGA.com Facebook Nation (click here to join the masses) -- who would make up your current top 5 players in the world?

Based on the feedback, we tallied the votes. Below you will find your current top 5, along with the number of votes each player received (current official ranking is in parentheses):

T1. Adam Scott – 16 (2)
T1. Zach Johnson – 16 (9)
T3. Tiger Woods – 15 (1)
T3. Rory McIlroy - 15 (6)
5. Bubba Watson – 12 (12)

Even though only two of the players on your list are currently in the official top 5, it's still a pretty strong list -- especially when you consider Johnson and Watson are the only two players on the list who have won in the new season and McIlroy -- while not yet a winner -- has two top 10s, including a playoff loss at the Honda Classic.

Just for fun, here are the other players you voted on in descending order of votes (current official ranking is in parentheses):

6. Dustin Johnson – 11 (10)
T7. Jimmy Walker – 9 (24)
T7. Henrik Stenson – 9 (3)
9. Jason Day – 8 (4)
T10. Phil Mickelson – 7 (5)
T10. Patrick Reed – 7 (20)
12. Jason Dufner – 5 (17)
13. Matt Kuchar – 3 (11)
14. Harris English – 2 (38)
T15. Hunter Mahan - 1 (32)
T15. Luke Donald -1 (25)
T15. Justin Rose - 1 (7)
T15. Jordan Spieth - 1 (13)

Click here to add your two cents to the conversation.Here are the current top 5 in the current Official World Golf Ranking:

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.
 

March 12, 2014 - 10:20am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Jason Dufner
USA Today Sports Images
Since winning the 2013 PGA Championship, Jason Dufner has yet to miss a cut on the PGA Tour.

For the third consecutive week, "par" will be a good friend of players on the PGA Tour.

The Copperhead Course at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla., plays host to this week's Valspar Championship. The Copperhead is the type of course that requires a player's full attention on each and every shot. And if you're looking for drama, there should be plenty on the closing three holes, affectionately known as the Snake Pit.

READ: Tiger's back raises Masters questions | Amazing two-man trick shot | Equipment photos

Kevin Streelman is the defending champ at Innisbrook. Who will come out on top this week?

Here are five players I think you should watch.

5. Jim Furyk
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T5 at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
Reason to watch: Furyk is pretty much always a contender at Innisbrook. He won the event in 2010 and lost in a playoff in 2012. He also tied for seventh a year ago. The course certainly fits his eye. Plus, while not spectacular thus far in the new season, Furyk has been consistently solid. He hasn't missed a cut since the Open Championship last July. That consistency, along with his track record at the Copperhead Course, will have Furyk in the mix once again at Innisbrook.

4. Luke Donald
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T8 at the Honda Classic
Reason to watch: His worst finish in three starts at Innisbrook is a tie for sixth. Donald also won the tournament in 2012. When you think of "horses for courses" no two players fit the bill better at Innisbrook that Donald and Furyk. It's truly a course you need to think your way around.

3. Matt Kuchar
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T6 Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Reason to watch: Routinely one of the best players on Tour, this season has been no exception for Kuchar. He's racked up four top-10 finishes in six starts. Aside from a missed cut in the Northern Trust Open, Kuchar's worst finish this season is a tie for 13th last week at Doral. His last four starts at Innisbrook have yielded no worse than a tie for 14th.

2. Webb Simpson
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Reason to watch: Simpson couldn't have started the 2013-14 season any better, winning in his very first start in Las Vegas. In eight starts, including the win, Simpson has collected five top-5 finishes and hasn't missed a single cut. Since 2010, Simpson's worst finish at Innisbrook is a tie for 17th last year. His best finish was runner-up in 2011. He excels on difficult courses (see his U.S. Open win at Olympic Club in 2012) and that's precisely what Innisbrook's Copperhead course is.

1. Jason Dufner
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Fifth at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Reason to watch: The 2013 PGA Champion has yet to miss a cut on the PGA Tour since that major victory last August. He enters this week on the strength of two top-10 finishes in his last two starts (T9 at both the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and the WGC-Cadillac Championship). It just feels like he's on the verge of something big... again.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.